Lawrence Lebo,
Don't Call Her Larry, Vol. 3: American Roots
(On the Air, 2010)

This is the third of a trilogy of roots music CDs by Lawrence Lebo, who is a woman despite being named Lawrence. Lebo runs a wide gamut here, mixing lounge standards with Western swing and added jazz and folk influences.

Six of the nine songs are originals. The instrumentation varies, too, including lap steel, accordion, violin and vibes along with piano, sax, bass and drums.

Lebo has a light but expressive voice that can handle different formats. She goes from the smoky barroom number "On Time," to the lively "Cowboy Swinging Boogie Woogie," to the sadness of "Rose, Rose" (about a deceased pet).

Some of her own songs are derivative, like "Lawrence's Working Girl Blues," with lyrics about working for a "boss man" sung to a standard blues progression. Others, though, are pretty good, like "A Promise That I Can Keep." This one has a nice lilt that successfully straddles her Western swing and Tin Pan Alley influences.

The production is not perfect, since not all the instruments are balanced in the mixes, but this is a largely acoustic CD that is not cluttered with electronics or samples. All told, this is an honest and heartfelt effort by a singer with a different outlook.

music review by
Dave Howell

16 October 2010

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